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New Model Line-Up

The launch of new processors with Sandy Bridge microarchitecture is a big event. The Intel launched the total of 29 CPU models, including 14 desktop CPUs and 15 mobile CPUs.

Although Sandy Bridge is a new microarchitecture, the marketing names of the processors based on it haven’t changed: all new CPUs belong to Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 processor families, just like their predecessors. The difference is only in the model numbers.

Now all model numbers are four-digit ones and start with number “2”, which indicates that the processors belong to the second Intel Core generation. After that we see three more symbols: the performance rating and an optional letter suffix that is used if the CPU belongs to a special edition series of some sort. At this time we know about six different suffixes, but there will most likely be more of those later on:

  • K – desktop processors allowing overclocking;
  • S – desktop processors with the TDP lowered to 65 W;
  • T – desktop processors with less than 45 W TDP;
  • M – dual-core mobile processors with less than 35 W TDP;
  • QM – quad-core mobile processors with 45 W TDP;
  • XM – extreme modifications of mobile processors, which performance is boosted at the expense of low heat dissipation;
  • None – regular desktop processors have no letter suffix in their model name.

We are primarily interested in the desktop models. The table below lists them all:

The general logics behind the model line-ups remained unchanged. Core i7 family includes four CPU models with four computational cores and Hyper-Threading technology support, Core i5 family includes quad-core CPUs without Hyper-Threading, and Core i3 family includes CPUs that do not support Turbo Boost but work with Hyper-Threading. Moreover, Sandy Bridge seems to have brought more order to the CPU classification: Core i5 series no longer has any dual-core models (with the exception of one – energy-efficient Core i5-2390T). At the same time the differences between Core i7 and Core i5 became more significant. Besides Hyper-Threading support or its absence, top CPUs now also have a larger L3 cache, which is yet another justification of a $90 price difference.

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